No untoward incident at BN, PPBM 'twin' ceramahs in Malacca

Arnaz M. Khairul and Kelly Koh

MALACCA: Two separate ceramahs held by Barisan Nasional and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) in Taman Paya Rumput Bestari here last night ended without much incident, amid high police presence.

Within 50 metres of each other, the Umno Tangga Batu division ran a 'Ceramah Perdana Tolak Fitnah' while PPBM held it's 'Bicara Rakyat' in conjunction with the launch of the party's state headquarters.

Both events started at 8.30pm with police cordoning off the two areas in anticipation of possible friction between supporters of both sections.

At the BN front, more than 3,000 Umno supporters were present, mostly comprised of youths on motorcycles.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, who arrived at 11pm, told the crowd that youths will play a vital role in helping BN to win in the upcoming general election.

He also took a veiled swipe at PPBM, saying that a party has been formed from a group of former disgruntled Umno members.

"The opposition parties can't even decide among themselves which party will contest in which constituencies in the upcoming general election.

"The seats which are traditionally contested by the present opposition parties for sure will not make way for PPBM or other opposition parties," he added.

Later, after flagging off the Tangga Batu Youth on Motorcycles event, Idris said the crowd in BN's ceramah surpassed the crowd at the opposition-organised event.

"It is a coincidence that the opposition also organised a campaign nearby but clearly, we outnumber them.

"The youths on motorcycle alone numbered 2,500 people and Youth members who came were much more than this." he said.

Meanwhile, at the PPBM's Bicara Rakyat ceramah, party chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin officiated the opening ceremony of the state party headquarters there.

Also present were PPBM education bureau chief Mohd Rafiq Naiza Mohideen and state chief Mohd Redzuan Yusof and other state opposition leaders, along with a crowd of about 2,000 supporters.

Asked about the second cancellation of his debate with Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, Dr Mahathir simply said: "I don't know why. He is afraid, But I am ready for a debate at any time."